Dan Segarra is 31-years-old, and he’s loved drawing ever since he was a small boy. Now he loves bringing drawings to life. He’s already dedicated a third of his life to the world of animation.
His first inspiration was an animation book by renowned American animator from the 1930’s and 60’s, Preston Blair, which was given to him by a high school teacher when he was a student in Chicago, IL.
Fast forward a few years, and he’ll tell you he still keeps himself on his toes when it comes to animation. He has to, to be one of the best at what he does. Today, he is one of about 50 animators of “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” which premieres in theaters on July 13, and features the voice-overs of John Leguizamo and Jennifer Lopez.
“I try to keep myself aware of all the animated movies that are out,” says Segarra. “I’ll go and watch ‘Brave.’ I have the trailer to ‘Epic,’ the last few days I’ve been watching it like five times a day – just watching animation in general really inspires me.”
The first “Ice Age” computer-animated comedy film was released in 2002 and was directed by Carlos Saldanha and Chris Wedge. It grossed $383 million worldwide on $59 million budget, and the sequels have more than doubled in profits.
Originally from Chicago, Segarra is now working for Blue Sky Studios and relocated to Greenwich, CT a year ago. After getting his BA from Columbia College in Chicago, a school which has a focus on animation, he got his first start in his career working on cereal commercials for Lucky Charms and Honey Nut Cheerios, and he rapidly worked his way up to movies.
“It took about three to four years,” he says. “My first movie was ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’…I worked in Los Angeles for a few films and got a job about a year ago for ‘Ice Age 4’.”
He says what he loves most about his job is dealing with the movement and acting of the characters. It took about a little more than a year to complete his animation for “Ice Age: Continental Drift.”
“It lets you get into the emotion of the character,” says Segarra, whose parents are from Puerto Rico. “That’s what really appealed to me.”
He adds that the villain of the movie was his favorite character.
“There is a lot of conflict inside of him,” says Segarra. “He was two sided…He had a lot more personality than you would think of a villain.”
But what is it that he actually does as an animator? He says to imagine a puppet inside the computer.
“I would use controls to move the puppet in different mannerisms/poses that the director wants,” says Segarra. “It’s not exactly drawing but moving a puppet. There are 24 frames in a second in animation, and for each frame, I create a different pose/image…”
He says he’s working on his all-time favorite project right now – “Epic,” which is supposed to hit theaters next year.
“I love the way it looks and the potential of acting in it,”says Segarra so happily, you can almost hear his grin. “The characters feel alive, because the characters feel so believable and real.”